Friday, October 17, 2008

The Nanay Chronicles #2 - Comfort Food

Ours was a very large family. With nine kids to feed and host of workers in her small garments business, Nanay was an expert in whipping up meals good for an entire battalion. I could not remember having small cookware in the old house - everything was big. We have a pretty big kitchen that opens up to the backyard where food was cooked during big celebrations.

Of course, I will never forget the food - glorious comfort food that Nanay would prepare for the clan.
  • Sinigang na Ayungin - this small fish is caught in Laguna Lake and is best cooked in sour broth made from either ripe guavas or Kamias. Garnished with sili leaves, it is perfectly complemented by patis.
  • Ginataang Biya - Nanay chose biya that have eggs and would use the "dilaw" variety of ginger for that unique tangy taste.
  • Menudong Bato-bato ng Manok - I don't see this in the market now, but Nanay used to buy chicken gall bladders from the Pasig Market and cooked them menudo style - with tomato sauce, soy sauce, and potatoes.
  • Ukbo - a true-blue Pateros delicacy, Ukbo is actually aborted duck embryo that did not fully developed into balut. Pretty much like a day-old chick, it is cooked either as adobo or kaldereta. Nanay would use 7-Up and pickles to give it a different twist. I love the egg yolks especially.
  • Kare-kareng Bituka ng Baka - When I was younger, I hated it when Nanay cooks this version of the kare-kare. The sebo would fill my mouth even before I am halfway through my meal, and I had to rinse my mouth with hot water after the meal. But my Nanay's kare-kare is tops!
  • Menudo - Nanay cooks the dry version of the menudo, tasty and especially great with hot pan de sal. On special occasions, she would throw in some raisins for that sweet-tangy taste.
  • Kinilaw na Puso ng Saging - Nanay's version is not raw, although it was still made with vinegar. She used pork sauteed with shrimp and then garnished with sotanghon.
  • Pinakbet na Isda - Nanay would use either fried labahita or grilled bangus for her version of this Ilocano favorite. I would pick out the ampalaya and kalabasa from the many vegetables. Then as now, I still hate the okra!
  • Sinuwam na Baboy - Better known as batchoy to many people, Nanay always partnered this meal with fried galungong. She would boil fresh galungong in vinegar, crushed garlic and peppercorn before frying them to a crisp. For the sinuwam, she used pork tenderloin, liver, kidney and spleen. The exotic flavor was courtesy of fresh pig blood, lots of ginger and kimchay. The sinuwam broth was made even better when taken with a sprinkling of patis with calamansi and siling panigang.
  • Almondigas - I loved helping Nanay cook this meal, as I get to do the meatballs and dunk them into the pan. The meatballs are made up of ground pork, minced onion, pepper and eggs. Then she would do a sautee of garlic, onions and ginger and uses the second washing of rice for the broth. Of course, Nanay's broth will not be complete without patis. After the meatballs have been cooked, she finishes it off with misua and kasuba.
  • Paksiw na Pata - one of my all-time favorites! Pork knuckles boiled in water, vinegar, soy sauce and banana flowers until succulently tender.
  • Paksiw na Bituka - Only Nanay can prepare this dish perfectly. She knows how to pick the right intestines and clean them. I especially like the part where that is also used for chicharon bulaklak. She cooks this with dried oregano and whole peppercorns. As usual, great with patis - and I eat and eat and eat until my lips turn white because of the vinegar!
  • Tinolang Manok - I used to tag along with Nanay when we buy the live chicken and would watch as she slits the throat and let the blood pour in a saucer with uncooked rice. She would only use manibalang na papaya and lots of ginger, giving the broth a wonderfully sweet and tangy flavor. Great with patis and calamansi as well.
  • Boiled Eggs in Catsup - The first time I cooked this for friends, they were incredulous. Nanay would boil the eggs, cut them in halves and make a sauce by sauteing garlic, onion and catsup with a bit of water.
  • Sinuwam na Itlog - another egg dish that I only get to eat in our house. Nanay would saute garlic, onions and ginger strips, then add water. When the water starts boiling, she would break the eggs and drop them one by one into the boiling broth. She would then add patis and misua to the poached eggs.
  • Fried Pork Chop - I tried and tried but could not even approximate how Nanay prepares one of my favorite baons. She would boil the meet in vinegar, garlic and peppercorns until dry and then let it fry in its own oil.
These are just a few of the food that I remember Nanay cooking for us. In future posts, I will devote a whole series for these culinary delights.


garret said...

Great post! Made me hungry and nostalgic at the same time. I remember my mom making "ukbo", it was an arduous task that took all day.
Are you familiar with "paros'? They were local mollusks, I think they were fresh water clams. I miss their fresh briny taste. Pateros had such a rich culinary culture. I am looking forward to eating myself sick when I go back next year.
Keep u the great work.

Dennis said...

Yes, I remember paros! It did not make it to my list, probably because I do not exactly relish those days when its on the dinner table. For one, I am not really very fond of uncooked food - which is actually the best way to eat paros. It is usually peddled, with the vendor shouting a very long paaaaaaroooooossssssss! You can hear them from a mile.

Paros is best eaten fresh, blanched in boiling water and then spinkled with calamansi juice. Great with patis!

As many other Pateros delicacies, it is now very rare that one would come upon a paros vendor on the streets. Very sad indeed...

Elmer I. Nocheseda said...

Hi. Elmer Nocheseda here. For the Pateros book we are compiling, we are very interested to include the recipe of Pateros food. Would you be kind to put this into a recipe form and if you have pictures and anecdotes about the food, we would be interested to include them in the book. Keep on posting.

Email me at


JayAshKal said...

Of yourseries, this is one of my favourites ones. Saka yung tungkol sa "tamang" pagkain ng balut.

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